Students at the Ghana Institute of Journalism are not happy with a decision by school authorities to hold this second semester’s examinations online.
The students believe that this would cause a lot of inconvenience to students, especially those who are already struggling to adjust to online academic activities.
On Wednesday, management of the school released a communique expressing its decision to hold the end of semester examination online.
The decision is a result of the closure of the school in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as directed by President Akufo-Addo.
School authorities, in the communique, stated the guidelines for the conduct of the exams online as well as provided a revised academic timetable.
But students are protesting the move, explaining that some of the challenges with the online learning programme have not been resolved and that some of their colleagues are already in a disadvantaged position.
“Management of the school has not fully resolved the challenge about the data cost we have to incur because of online learning. They have entered into a partnership with AirtelTigo for free internet access to some learning platforms but those of us using other networks, we have been left out. Even in Accra there are places with unstable internet connection. The field is not level for all students regarding the conduct of online academic activities,” one Elizabeth told UniversNews
Another student, Richard, added that “Let’s imagine that you are in the middle of an online examination then your device goes off or you run out of data, or there’s even a power cut, you definitely will be at lost but the lecturer won’t know this and may think you are just looking for an excuse. Already, we have not fully adjusted to the online way of undertaking academic activities and now, they are adding examination to it. This is just not right”
The school has revised its academic calendar, giving students a three-week period, from May 1 – May 24, for revision.
They explain that the long period is to “enable students to clarify any issues and allow those who may have missed some online activities to catch up.”
School management has scheduled the end of semester examination to take place between Monday 25th May and Friday, 12th June
GIJ Management reviews examination grading system
School authorities have stated that 25% of students’ overall final course score will now be determined by continuous assessment with Interim Assessment constituting 15%.
The remaining 60% will be from the end of semester examination.
Initially, 40% of the overall course score was from the Interim Assessment and the remaining 60% from End of Semester Examination.
The school says that this revision is only going to be used in the conduct this second semester of the 2019/2020 academic year.
The Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) has announced novel guidelines for its Second Semester 2019/2020 examinations, but the announcement has proved unpopular among some students on social media.
The Academic Board of the School says the online examination is in response to government directives to all universities as part of emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, the End-of-Semester Examinations scheduled provisionally for between May 25-June 12 will not require students to gather at one location to sit for the exams.
Consequently, the following types of questions may be administered in the examinations:
Essay type questions for the student to answer at most 2 questions out of 4 or 5 questions. The student may have up to 24 hours from the time of the examination to submit the work via a designated means to be indicated or approved by the Institute/HOD;
A term paper on a topic of the course taken and approved by the HoD to be given and retrieved within a time frame indicated in consultation with and approved by the HOD; Multiple Choice Questions (MCQS) shall be taken within a 12-hour period from the time the paper is scheduled. Each examination, using MCQs, should carry a maximum of 60 questions to be completed in a maximum of 1 hour 30 minutes. The 12-hour window for MCQ papers implies that students may log in at different times depending on their circumstances within the 12 hours after the scheduled commencement of that paper and submit the work based on the time allocated for the paper from the time they logged in. Submission shall be done electronically via a designated means to be indicated or approved by the Institute/HoD; and
For some practical courses, the students could be asked to present a self-recorded video of up to 8 minutes for examination, which shall be submitted within a determined time frame and through a means that shall be indicated or approved by the Institute/HOD.
Group work and real-time video/audio formats shall NOT be used in the examinations.
Examination questions shall be specific to each course and require the student to apply course concepts and/or theories or synthesize course materials in given situations/contexts.
In a public notice, GIJ said regulations governing examinations within the Institue shall apply. The “non-exhaustive” list of regulations says it shall be an offence to;
a. collaborate with other students;
b. seek help from other students’, and
C. utilize the services of tutors or other persons paid or unpaid.
The notice adds that: “This list is not exhaustive. In essence, any practices that can be deemed to be dishonest and seeking to give a student an unfair advantage in the examination process shall be considered a breach.
“The examination paper shall be written and submitted online within the specified scheduled time as directed by the HoD/course lecturer”.
For students writing dissertations, all undergraduate projects shall be converted to term papers of about 4000 5000 words on an aspect of the project or research cycle, which shall be graded out of 100%.
“Masters’ dissertation should also be converted to a long essay of about 70008000 words and graded out of 100%. Specific content details of the various projects and other related regulations shall be communicated to supervisors and students in due course by the Head of Research. The current COVID-19 situation implies that students shall not be made to engage in any data collection related activities that could undermine the directive to stay at home and/or observe social distancing directives”.
Meanwhile, some students including the Organizing Secretary of the Student Representative Council of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Cedric Kekeli Afewu have expressed concerns over the online examinations.
“Online is very good but let it benefit all not just a section of the students. I know mates who are frontline workers helping in this hard times, some students are at remote places with poor networks and some of them are finding it very difficult to complete payment of their fees and even buy data to access the internet at this crucial times that we all know money is very difficult to come by,” Mr Afewu said in an interview with Ghanaweb.
“Let’s consider all these people as well and make provisions for them before taking a firm decision on the online exams and online learning move.”